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I have existed ten years without her.

A decade has passed since I last lay on her bed next to her, telling her that it was okay for her to let go. I didn’t want to tell her that because I didn’t want her to be gone but a trusted friend who had lost her mother and was a nurse suggested I did so.  To let her know that it was okay. I know she didn’t want to leave, that she wanted to stay alive forever, was so scared of dying so I thought maybe if I told her those words it would help somehow. I’m not sure how exactly but that it would.  Sometimes though I wish she were still laying in that bed and that I could go to her house and lay next to her, rub her arm and tell her everything. Even if she does know, wherever she is, I still am unable to hear her, have her reassure me that she knows.

I know that wasn’t her in the bed that week. A mere week after we called hospice and we only did it so they could manage her meds after the doctor said there were no more treatments but she was still kind of herself, telling the intake nurse they should tweeze the long hair on the side of her face. And then suddenly my sister was calling saying that she had been standing at the bathroom vanity for hours and before you knew it she was in that bed, leaving once or twice to use the washroom, slowly transitioning to death. 

Even now I can still remember vividly the zombie-like days of that week, from that Saturday night when my sister first called to the Saturday morning a week later when my other sister called to say she was gone. Trying to work on my laptop from the little dressing table in her bedroom suite with people coming by to check on me, my sisters, on her, my father. Friends of the family, friends of hers, people from our temple, my best friend asking me what she could do for me. Í don’t know,’ I told her and I really didn’t but she miraculously decided just to come into town, moments before the death rattle had started. Caretakers of my grandmother and aunt and my nieces who had become close friends coming over just to comfort her, take care of her. Trying to decide if I should let people see her like that, on the bed, knowing she would not like it. My father yelling at me as I clumsily cut a brisket that someone else had thoughtfully brought to us.

I have written so much about missing her, about still wanting to pick up the phone everyday after work to call her. Not as much about how I can’t hear her voice anymore but somehow still feel it. I don’t honor her the way I was raised, taught—saying yizkor on her yahrzeit (prayers on the Hebrew anniversary of her death), visiting the cemetery, lighting a candle. I honor her the only way I know how for me, keeping her alive by talking about her often, believing that every white butterfly is her spirit visiting me, missing her as fiercely all these years later (a decade!) even if I have somewhat grown accustomed to her physical spirit and cordless phone not being on this plane and remembering how  lucky I was to have her as my mother for almost forty years.

I will forever yearn.

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